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Sprint douses Kyocera Hydro Vibe with Wi-Fi calling

The low-cost waterproof smartphone joins a growing roster of devices capable of making phone calls over Wi-Fi.

A software update gives the water lovin' Hydro Vibe new powers. Josh Miller/CNET

Sprint's waterproof budget smartphone, the Kyocera Hydro Vibe , has become the carrier's latest handset to make calls over a Wi-Fi connection.

A software update rolling out over the next few weeks will give the handset the ability to make unlimited calls and messaging via Wi-Fi. Domestic calls and text messages transmitted over Wi-Fi are free, although most customers already have unlimited minutes and messages.

It's the latest smartphone to get Wi-Fi calling, a feature that has grown in popularity and awareness since Apple pointed it out as a key addition to the iPhone 6. Rival T-Mobile held a press conference a day after the iPhone 6 was unveiled to tout the benefits of Wi-Fi calling.

First introduced in May, the entry-level phone features a 4.5-inch qHD display, an 8-megapixel rear camera, and 8GB of internal storage. And, while powered by a slightly outdated Android 4.3 Jelly Bean operating system, it's enough to get the job done for less-demanding users. The main draw, however, is its waterproof and impact-resistant chassis.

The software update puts the Kyocera Hydro Vibe in a growing group of Sprint phones able to harness the power of Wi-Fi networks. Other notable models include various versions of the HTC One M8, LG G3 , and the Samsung Galaxy S5.